About Me

I am Roland Burton.....ok, so I'm not "actually" Roland Burton, but if you watch the show "Army Wives", then you are familiar with the lone male military spouse. I've been married to a Soldier since 2006 and that is exactly how I've felt throughout the years. I've only met one other male military spouse during this time, but I have connected with a few wonderful female military spouses over the years that have accepted me with open arms and made the transition from duty station to duty station much easier. We have two beautiful girls and we love the military life. My name is Dee and I am a "Real Life Roland"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wars within the War

During this time of war, in addition to the regular attacks on our troops by enemy forces, there have also been other types of attacks. These "green on blue" attacks are "friendly" forces killing our troops. In 2011, there were 35 instances. In 2012 so far, there have been 51. These things get quite a bit of media coverage due to the loss of life as a direct result.

Something that concerns me just as much, if not more than "green on blue" attacks, is the threat that wears the same uniform as my wife. Sexual harassment and assault are a big problem within the military. Men and women are victimized by their comrades. As a Army civilian employee, I have to attend the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, along with the Soldiers. It is saddening to hear the stories of those that have been attacked by people they trusted with their lives.

In a deployed environment, this is a threat that most people don't realize exists. I personally know of many female Soldiers who, in addition to walking around with their service weapon for protection against enemy attacks, also walk around with knives for protection against fellow Soldiers.

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, there were 6,350 sexual assaults reported by service members within the past two years. That number doesn't account for the number of sexual assaults that go unreported. The DOD Safe Helpline was launched in April 2011 to provide support for servicemembers who are victims of sexual assault. From the launch, until the end of the fiscal year (October 2011), the helpline assisted more than 770 individuals. In the general US population, the female sexual assault prevalence is about 17%. In the military, it is within the 23-33% range

Sexual assault has long lasting side effects, including PTSD. The Center for Deployment Psychology also notes the following:

Military sexual trauma may have more dire consequences for its victims because of a number of phenomena unique to military life. To begin, among military units home, work and social environments are often co-mingled. Though a contributor to unit cohesion, this phenomenon may make it impossible for a victim to find safety; the victim may encounter the assailant in barracks, at work, or where unit members spend leisure time. The omnipresence of weapons may increase the sense of physical threat during an assault. The need to depend on one another in combat operations may undermine a victims’ resolve to fight off an assault. It may also deter a victim from filing a complaint. When the rapist is the ranking officer, these difficulties are intensified (Sadler et al, 2003). Victims may be fearful of saying “no” to a commanding officer’s advances or attacks, and may fear that bringing charges in the aftermath would put their lives in greater danger. Some victims fear that accusing one’s commanding officer of sexual assault will end the victim’s military career.

These are the sad facts. And these are the things that cause me to toss and turn at night. I see the stories on the news about roadside bombs and "green on blue" attacks and they make my stomach turn. But I am equally disturbed by the statistics of servicemembers sexually assaulting other servicemembers. Though these attacks may not directly result in troop deaths, they can have a long lasting psychological effects and could even lead to suicide. 

The training classes are a great tool to educate people, but real change starts with the people at the bottom, not a mandatory class that came down from the top. All accounts of sexual harassment and assault must be taken seriously and investigated without prejudice based on the reputation or rank of the servicemembers involved. Prosecution has to extend far beyond just a slap on the wrist, which could be accomplished with a mandatory minimum sentence for such charges. According to an article I read on Military.com, convicted sex offenders in the military receive about 2 years in prison per victim; while in the civilian world, the sentence is about 10 years in prison per victim. 

So as I close my eyes and say a prayer for our troops fighting the war against terrorist organizations, I also pray for their safety against the threats that many people don't realize exist. It's hard enough to fight a war against an enemy who is willing to die for their beliefs; imagine how hard it is when you're not sure if you can trust those who swore an oath to stand by you in this fight.


  1. When I was deployed to Afghanistan, I avoided being outside the barracks after 2100 and tried to walk in well lit areas and/or with a female battle buddy if I had to be out later than that.

    There was one reported rape at my base in the year I was deployed, and it scared a lot of the women. I suspect there were other rapes that were never reported. Male on male rapes are hardly every reported, for instance.

    It is sad when a deployed Soldier has more reason to fear assault by a member of the team than an attack.

    1. Laura, thank you for sharing your story. You gave great suggestions for how to create the safest environment possible for yourself. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, it only takes one incident to create a state of fear within the area where you are supposed to feel safest.